Two tournament favorites, Nigeria and Egypt, will be in action today as both teams seek to seal qualification to the Round of 16 of the ongoing TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations, Cameroon 2021.
The Pharaohs of Egypt will face Sudan in the third and final matchday of Group D at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium at 19:00 GMT.
The main objective of the Pharaohs is to pick the maximum three points to ensure their progress to the Round of 16 even though a draw maybe enough. After losing its first match against Nigeria (1-0), the team led by Portuguese Carlos Queiroz, got its first win after beating Guinea-Bissau thanks to a solitary goal from Mohamed Salah.
The Egyptians have three points (3), behind the already qualified Super Eagles (6), followed by Guinea-Bissau and Sudan with only one point (1). Mathematically, the four teams have a strong chance of booking a place in the next round.
It will be a match that pits two countries with a well-known and historic rivalry against each other. This will be the sixth encounter between Egypt and Sudan at the Africa Cup of Nations. Egypt hold the upper hand with three wins to Sudan’s one (D1). Their first four meetings took place between 1957 and 1970 whilst their last head-to-head dates back to 2008, Egypt winning 3-0.
The first ever match in the Africa Cup of Nations was between Egypt and Sudan – it took place on 10th February 1957 in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital. The Pharaohs won 2-1.
Egypt is unbeaten in each of its last eight matchday three games of a group stage at the Africa Cup of Nations, winning six and drawing two since a 1-0 defeat to Morocco in the 1998 edition.
Seven-time champions (1956, 1959, 1986, 1998, 2006, 2008 and 2010), Egypt lost in only two AFCON finals. One in 1962, to Ethiopia, and the second final was, more recently, in 2017, against Cameroon. Egypt will be looking to consolidate its hegemony in Africa.
Carlos Queiroz, Coach of Egypt, stated at the pre-match conference that Egypt respects all the teams in the tournament, and he’s always focused on preparing the best possible squad for each match.
“There are no cases of COVID-19 in the team, which is a wonderful thing. We are ready to play a big match against Sudan and qualify to the next round. I am happy with the performance my players showed in the last match”.Carlos Queiroz
Sudan is seeking its second AFCON triumph after winning the tournament in 1970. Even though the statistics favor the Pharaohs, Sudan knows that it can create a surprise as other teams have done during this competition.
A victory over Egypt would pave the way for a second or third place depending on the result of the game between Nigeria and Guinea-Bissau.
Guinea Bissau v Nigeria
Nigeria, after securing top spot in Group D, will face Guinea-Bissau in the final group match on Wednesday in Garoua at 19:00 GMT.
This will be the first encounter between Guinea-Bissau and Nigeria at the Africa Cup of Nations. Nigeria has won 11 of its last 13 Africa Cup of Nations matches, including both in this year’s tournament so far. The Super Eagles last won each of their opening three matches of an edition back in 2006.
On the other hand, Guinea-Bissau remains winless in eight matches in the Africa Cup of Nations (D3 L5); only Benin (14), Mozambique (12) and Namibia (9) have played more games in the tournament without ever picking up a win.
Guinea-Bissau is yet to score in this year’s Africa Cup of Nations despite attempting 16 shots in its two matches so far. Overall, the West Africans have failed to score in their last six Africa Cup of Nations matches; no nation has ever gone seven straight games without a goal in the competition’s history.
A victory for Guinea-Bissau may secure its passage to the next round, given the result of the other group match between Egypt and Sudan, or as one of the best third-placed teams in the groups.